Zuckerberg's insensitive VR joyride around Puerto Rico is disgusting to watch

Angelica Greene
October 11, 2017

"Rachel and I aren't even in the same building in the physical world, but it feels like we're in the same place and can make eye contact". Both of the executives were demonstrating Facebook's Spaces virtual reality app in which people can chit-chat, play games, and interact with each other in digital worlds.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg showcased his company's virtual reality (VR) system Monday by conducting a live-stream tour of Puerto Rico, a US territory recently ravaged by Hurricane Maria.

"One of the things that is really magical about VR is that you can get the feeling you are really in a place", he added, before going on to remark on the suffering residents of Puerto Rico have experienced.

Zuckerberg's comments during the demonstration didn't help either.

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The video begins with Zuckerberg's and Franklin's avatars at Facebook's campus in Menlo Park, California, according to The Guardian. The company is taking help of artificial intelligence and satellite imagery to determine areas to provide aid.

The rules of virtual reality are still being established, but here's an easy one: Don't use human disasters as a way to show off features of your VR product. Moreover, they also announced the creation of population maps using Artificial Intelligence (AI). The social-media giant enabled its Safety Check feature and community assistance features in Puerto Rico, a disembodied cartoon avatar of Zuckerberg explained, adding that the company was working with the Red Cross to construct satellite imagery to help direct volunteers and aid workers to different parts of the island.

The internet was quick to criticize the PR stunt, as well as defend what Facebook has done for the region-the company has donated $1.5 million to relief funds on top of its connectivity efforts. The team will help to increase coordination in relief efforts. "That's going to help the Red Cross figure out where people are who need help".

Oculus is having its developer conference this week so it's not entirely out of left field, but seeing a cartoon avatar in the middle of an NPR-produced 360 video highlighting the situation in Puerto Rico while very real people walk around surveying the devastation of their homes perhaps wasn't the most appropriate choice.

Other reports by GizPress

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